Your brand, from miles away: Should you outsource your digital marketing?

“And there you are, an ocean away

Do you have to live an ocean away?”

-Alexander Hamilton and Angelica Schuyler, “Take a Break

Some members of the Flamingo flock are huge Hamilton junkies. There’s so many things about this show that ring true about life in the United States today. First, Hamilton was a total workaholic: if he were alive, we’d be pitching him on outsourcing some of those Federalist papers! And could we maybe do some of them as viral videos? Don’t get us started…

If you are prone to think, “There’s a million things I haven’t done…just you wait,” we’d love to help you with your own version of world domination.  But is it the right fit for your brand to hand your precious dream off to someone else? 

While we’d love to say that we land every client we pitch, sometimes we walk away from a discovery call with the conclusion that a client might be better off handling their digital presence through their own resources.  It depends on several factors for us to determine whether you’re better off handing off your marketing to a pro or handling it in house. Here’s five things that we consider:

How consistent are you? 

Are you a “feast or famine” poster who will generate content 10x in two days – and then not again for 6 months?  Do you have ideas on how to create share-worthy images in Photoshop, Canva, or other image management programs? Is your branding consistent in terms of colors, fonts, and written tone? If so, great!  If not, these are all things a pro can help with. 

How specialized is your brand? 

Does your organization specialize in highly technical, scientific, or legal subjects that are hard to explain in a 150-word social media post? If so, does your brand even really NEED to be on social media to generate clients, or are more specialized marketing tactics better for your staff to employ? 

How big are your goals? 

Are you thinking of someday making millions of dollars, or is your service something fun you do for extra cash? As you level up your audience over time, your capacity for individual interaction will naturally become less. There simply won’t be enough hours in the day for you to give time to everyone that wants a piece of you. That might be the proper time for you to enlist additional help with managing your communications.  

Is marketing is something you genuinely enjoy?

Are you the one sneaking into the bathroom to check out Instagram stories? Do you practice TikTok dances with your kids? If social is your jam, have fun with it! And make sure you share them all with us so we can follow you! However, if it’s something you dread, you’re better off spending time working on your business, and letting us handle the pieces you dislike. 

Do you have the right skill set for social media management? 

Do your kids have to explain to you how to work your phone? Do you lack the brain dexterity to create compelling, professional-looking graphics and branding? Is spelling and grammar something you struggle with? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, enlisting a professional agency should be on your must-have list. 

We’ve found that marketing is often thought of as something “anyone” can do, and it makes us cringe to hear that. Do you cut your own hair? Fix your own car? Perform your own medical checkups? Of course not – you hire a professional with the expertise you need!  Remember, you don’t have to be great at everything!  

it’s also perfectly acceptable if your answers to the questions on this list change, as your life changes! Maybe you need help with your marketing during a busy season, but have a slower time where you want to explore managing things on your own. It’s not an all-or-nothing approach!

The life of a business owner is never boring, and always evolving.  Considering help with your digital presence is a huge consideration, but it’s exciting to think about how far you’ve come that it’s even something you can consider. As Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton once said, “Look at where you are, look at where you started!” 

Contact us if you would like our assistance on the next step of your journey. 

We remember: October 4, 2021

It was a very somber occasion at Flamingo HQ on October 4, 2021. One might call it “the day the music died.” (bonus points if you’re old enough to catch that reference) 

OK, the music didn’t really die, but Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp did. 

What did you do during that extra free time? Did you swear at your computer and frantically refresh your browser windows over and over again?  Or, did you kick back with your legs in the air and relax? Or, did you tackle some much-overdue tasks that you couldn’t get to because of the pull of social media? 

If this day didn’t teach you the importance of marketing your business outside social media, let us make it a little clearer. 

The sad truth about marketing

True confessions: we hate obsessing about algorithm changes and organic reach and engagement numbers more than you do – because, quite frankly, they are metrics that are out of our control. You can have the best-planned strategy, but you cannot fully control the results of your marketing endeavors.  

While we’ve done this for long enough to be able to predict how certain things will do, and recommend the best tactics to meet your goals – but we cannot control the world.  If we could, there would be an endless waterfall of wine outside our office, trust us. 

So, since we haven’t fully mastered world domination yet, what’s a business owner to do when the world goes bananas and we can’t snap our lunches for the ‘Gram? 

Don’t be afraid to play in a different sandbox

So Facebook and Instagram went down.  Where did your customers go? Do you know? A lot of them dusted off their old Twitter handle, or found other communication channels to distract them and chat with friends during that fateful day. We’re willing to wager that those seeking information probably went to your website.  Is yours up to date?  Is it listing your hours of operation and ways for people to contact you outside of social media?  If not, talk to us. We pride ourselves on building websites that are affordable, easy to maintain and help your customers find you. 

If you’re not sending emails to your best customers, the October outage might be a great reason to start!  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel if you’re already generating social content with us or on your own – just expand upon it and start collecting email addresses to send it to!  Most email platforms have a free or low-cost plan that make it an easy, low-maintenance investment. We like Mailchimp and Flodesk, just to name a couple of options. 

Furthermore, social media algorithms mean that your best customers might not see your best content right away – but email inboxes have no algorithms to contend with once you’ve made it to the inbox! 

Read the room!

We’ve all heard about those companies that commit awful branding faux pas (and if you haven’t, here are some truly terrible ones for your enjoyment). Often, these mistakes are due to using a scheduler for social media or email, and not being nimble enough to un-schedule messages before they are published. 

Luckily, your Flamingo team is normally nimble enough to help you unschedule before your business becomes fodder for late-night comedy.  We review your social media content writing as we go, to look for any holidays and culturally significant events that could be an opportunity for a promotion OR a tone-deaf mishap.  

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – how are they feeling when things like a social media outage happens? Are they able to get a hold of you? Are they frustrated? Or do they think it’s funny and you can use it to spin a fun promotional idea in another channel? 

Social media shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox, and it’s not the only one in ours either!  From websites to advertising, texting to branding, we can help you navigate this big crazy marketing world!  Contact us to chat about your business today! 

Why SEO is the most underrated part of your marketing strategy

Flamingo started out as a social media agency, and we admit it’s still our bread and butter! This past year, however, we’ve been able to ramp up a lot of our other digital capabilities, and we’ve fallen in love with SEO as an extra-special ingredient in our marketing secret sauce.

First of all, what is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a set of web strategies to make it easier for Google (or Bing, or Duckduckgo, or whatever search engine you use) to find your business and its content. It involves everything from the words you use in your copy, to the amount of images and page headers you use in a particular webpage or blog. By making sure that Google doesn’t have to work as hard to search your website for the things consumers are likely to be looking for, it rewards you by ranking your content highly when people are looking for a certain term.

SEO is less complicated than you might think

SEO can seem scary, because when you start researching what is involved with it, you may come across a lot of highly technical terms that you may not know much about, such as “backlinks” “domain authority” “h1”, etc. Like most professional realms, self-proclaimed “experts” like to throw out these words to make unassuming consumers believe that this area is something that they can never know enough about to be useful and they should outsource this skill set at the soonest possible chance.

However, here at Flamingo, where love being our brands’ best kept secret, we’ll let you in on the fact that this is a misconception. In fact, SEO is much more about not doing the wrong things than it is worrying if you are doing the right things.

Avoid SEO no-no’s like these

  • Having pages on your website with no content or “Coming soon.” It’s better to add those pages when they are complete.
  • Checking your website on a mobile device to ensure everything is readable and working properly
  • Break up long areas of text with headers, bold text, and bulleted lists (see what we’re doing here? 🙂 )
  • Make sure your pages include at least one image

Ways to play the SEO game well

Think thoughtfully about what your customers will be looking for. Try Googling yourself or your business and see what comes up! But be realistic. For instance, Flamingo Consulting is one of hundreds of marketing agencies in Grand Rapids. We know better than to think we’ll be able to rank at the top of the list every time someone types in one of those key words. But we can rank for Alicia’s name, our own name, and some of our specialties, so we make those the things we prioritize in writing our website copy.

Also, simply having a Google Business page can catapult you to the top of page rankings, especially if your business has a brick-and-mortar location that can be seen on a map.

Need more help figuring out the SEO world, or would you like to have our team give you some advice? Contact us – we’d love to chat with you about how to make your website better!

Let’s Talk Content Marketing!

Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, and sharing content through channels such as social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, and more. The goal is to reach your target audience and increase brand awareness, sales, engagement, and loyalty.

But as a small business how do you achieve this? The Flamingo team has you covered! 

Why is content marketing important for your small business?

Content marketing allows you to build relationships between your business and customers. A stronger relationship means a stronger sense of loyalty to your brand! Also, you’re able to educate your customers on products and services through creative ways such as blogs, social media posts, and podcasts while reaching a greater audience. Overall, content marketing allows your business to build a sense of community for your brand and followers. 

Where to start

This stage of content marketing can seem overwhelming but following these steps will help!

  1. Determine your brand and the type of content you want to produce.

Ask yourself these questions: What do they need from you? Why do they need your products or services? The answers to these questions will help you understand your target audience, thus determining the marketing content your produce. Choose your content channels.

Once you have identified your target audience then you can decide which content channels your audience uses most effectively. If your audience is in their early 20s to early 30s then you might choose content channels such as social media (Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok) blogs, and podcasts. 

  1. Now it’s time to create content

This is the fun part – creating unique content to draw in your audience. This content will be shared on various channels depending on your audience. If you need some extra help developing and distributing your content, we’re here! Flamingo Consulting offers a FREE social media strategy session to start your small business on the right path. So your business can achieve the full potential of content marketing.  

  1. Track your results

Our last tip is to analyze and measure the results of how your content is performing. By looking at your business’s results you can determine if the strategy or content needs to be improved to reach a larger audience. 

When you introduce incredible content marketing to your small business, you can reach your target audience, build brand awareness, and increase sales. Remember to determine your brand, choose your content channels, create interesting content, and track your results. If you need that extra help to take your small business’s content marketing to the next level, you know who to contact!

How to Create a Brand Voice For Your Small Business

Having a consistent and meaningful brand voice is important for your small business to stand out from the crowd. But what exactly IS a brand voice? Brand voice is more than logos, fonts, and color schemes — it’s the personality of your business and the presence it creates. The voice of your brand is how your business communicates to your audiences with specific grammar, tone, messages, and images. All of those pieces create the image of your brand as a whole. 

Think of it this way: the way you dress, speak, and act represents you and those aspects create your image, just like brand voice is to the overall brand.

Know your audience

As a brand, you need to understand your audience. The content such as language, images, and even responding to comments and DM’s has to align with your brand voice and be appropriate for your audience. 

Consider this: if your audience is individuals in their 20’s to early 30’s, it will be vital to keep your messaging and content lively and relevant to keep your audience entertained and to attract new individuals to your small business. 

Knowing your audience will also help you to understand where to play. The 20s to 30s crowd is connecting in very different spaces than the 40s to 50s crowd.

Who are you?

It is hard to stand out from the virtual crowd. Before creating content it is important to ask yourself a few questions to define your voice:

If your business was a person how would you describe it to your friends? Is your business authentic, relatable, and fun or is it mature, formal, and informative? 

Defining the characteristics of your small business will help you and your team in the long run when developing content.

First Impressions Matter 

Once you’ve developed those defining characteristics of your brand, it’s time to put those into action. A consistent brand voice is essential for your business because it controls your business’s impression. The messages you send out to your audiences represent how they see you. With that in mind, the type of language you chose to use has a large impact on the image of your business. Also, the tone of the messages matters depending on the context of your message. No matter what the subject of your message is, it is important to keep in mind your brand voice. You always want to make sure the content you are putting out represents your business. 

Stand Out From the Crowd

After you have finalized your small business’s brand voice, it’s time to get your hands dirty. This is the fun part: creating unique content for your small business that represents your mission and values. No matter what, you should always stay consistent with your messaging – online and offline. Also, your small business is unique, so you shouldn’t need to copy your competitors. Their branding may be working for them but you need to stand out from the rest. Put your own twist on your messaging to make your small business stand out from your competitors.

Remember that a consistent and meaningful brand voice is important for your small business to thrive. Though we understand that it can be hard to define and implement it. Flamingo Consulting offers 1×1 coaching options and brand voice workshops to help you define and grow into your unique brand voice. Contact us today to schedule yours!

Does my business need a year-end review?

I’m going to make this easy – the answer is YES. Especially this year, I’ve heard a LOT of pushback from business owners about not feeling a need to make this a priority – and the reasons usually fall into 1 of 3 camps:

“I’m only looking forward – there’s no reason to look back because we can’t change anything.”

“This year was a dumpster fire. I just need to pretend it never happened.” or…

“It’s just TOO BIG. There’s too much. I don’t know where to start.”

I get it. This has been a year for the record books – and not always in a good way! But reviewing your business – even when the business world is amiss – can give you great insight into how to be bigger, better, and faster going forward. Don’t believe me? Check out these 5 BIG reasons you need to review your business at the end of a year like 2020:

  1. It will improve your learning curve. Looking back on good – and especially not so good – choices you made can make you more apt to learn what works and what doesn’t for you and your business. You’ll be able to react quicker, with more confidence, and with better results by analyzing your wins and losses.
  2. It will help you avoid making the same mistakes again. Think about when you were first learning to ride a bike. Or, really, your first time doing ANYTHING. The slip-ups, the bad leans, trying to move too fast – they all taught you how to actually complete the task appropriately. When push comes to shove, the mistakes show you something to learn. EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES in their business. EVERYONE. They’re necessary but you don’t want to repeat those mistakes.
  3. You can better anticipate the future. We hear this all the time: History often repeats itself. While there’s no such thing as a business crystal ball (wouldn’t that have been helpful?), looking for the signs of repeating patterns can give you a jump-start on what external and internal factors could affect your business. Those may be frequent buying cycles for your customers (like holidays), surging trends in your competition, and even your own burnout cycle that may impact how efficiently your business runs. By analyzing and understanding your own trends and patterns, you can be more prepared to keep moving in the direction of your goals when those trends start showing up again.
  4. You can acknowledge and build on your successes. This one is especially for those of you in the “dumpster fire” group. It’s easy to look at a year of change and say “I didn’t do anything right.” Identifying what you did well – whether it was a full product launch, or even one small item from each project – will give you the confidence you need to keep growing and allow you to capitalize on that success and keep the momentum going from one part of your business to the next.
  5. Finally, You can learn from others’ experiences. Learning from other entrepreneurs’ successes and pitfalls can give you insight and inspiration for new options with your own business – just like your experience can help others learn. Rising tides raise all ships, right? Networking and having a safe space to share your experience and learn from others is KEY. Whether you’re learning from their experience, their actions, or even their mindset when they made the decisions they made can help you move forward with your own business.

That’s it! 5 HUGE reasons to review your business! Do we have you convinced now? You can join us and other entrepreneurs in learning how to do a year end review by joining our exclusive FREE GROUP on Facebook – our team of professionals can show you how to review your business from all three directions: your financials, your strategies, and your passion. JOIN US HERE!